Tom Izzo is my hero, and not just because of our NCAA championship in 2000. Not because of his five trips to the Final Four or his five Big Ten championships.
In fact his achievments on the hardwood at Michigan State have very little to do with my admiration for him.
Quite simply, Tom Izzo embodies everything that is great about MSU: hard work, respect, toughness, class, family and a genuine love for Michigan State University.
All of these aspects are on display every time our basketball team takes the court, but the last two aspects have never been more evident then they were last night. At the anual Izzone campout, Izzo spoke, as he always does, about the upcoming year, his love for the "Izzone", and a genuine appreciation for our support and dedication.
He also spoke about our football team's heartbreaking loss to Wisconsin earlier that afternoon. Izzo of all people knows that a successful athletic program takes time, energy and intense dedication to grow and flourish. He also knows what it's like to return to campus late on a cold night after a tough loss.
That is why he suggested that all of the students present at the campout make the short trek across the street to the Duffy Daugherty Football Complex to welcome back the team as they returned home from the game.
In what is being called by many, "The Riot That Wasn't", over 2,400 students spilled out and into the street separating Munn Field and the football complex. However, this was nothing like the March Madness riots of the late 90's and early 2000's.
With Izzo directing us, we lined Chestnut Rd., as chants of "Go Green! Go White!" echoad through the night air. When the first bus appeared, the fight song broke out, and soon all three busses were englulfed in a sea of green and white. The players appeared stunned at first, not quite sure what to make of the huge reception following such a disappointing loss.
Soon, however, their confusion turned into humble appreciation and admiration at our massive showing of support. Were they upset about the loss? Absolutely.
But when a chant of "Beat Northwestern" broke out, the message was clear: we're behind you. We support you. Let's turn the page and stay focused on our goals.
Coach Izzo took a huge gamble by unleashing a huge mob onto campus like that, but his faith was rewarded with one of the most moving displays I have ever witnessed in my life. It's something the football and basketball players will never forget and a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life.
I feel a great sense of pride in knowing that the family atmosphere we have here at State is very unique. Izzo knows this, which is why we have the Izzone campout every year, where we are able to meet, interact and hang out with our basketball players and coaches. It's also why he knew such a strong show of support for our football team would pay huge dividents in the future.
It's why Izzo drove to the airport in his pajamas to greet the hockey team after they won the National Championship last year and it's why he cares so much about the success of our football team.
He's been where Dantonio is going and he is doing everything he can to help Dantonio through the beginning stages of this journey. Tom Izzo is a true Spartan and we are beyond lucky to have him in our family.
I am willing to bet that no other major college university has the close-knit bond that we share here at Michigan State and last night that bond got alot tighter.
Be proud Spartan fans and know that a great coach, and an even greater man is leading us.